Friday, July 24, 2009

It's Maintenance Time

All the garden work is settled for now - I am weeding and deadheading, and simply enjoying what comes out every day. This week it's the first of the daylilies: it's a peachy-coloured one the name of which I have forgotten. It's quite prolific, however; having been split up and replanted a few years ago, it's grown into huge bunches. There is one of the burgundy ones from Red Lane Gardens out today as well. Must go get a photo.

I've begun painting the south side of the house - we have scraped it all and removed most of the loose caulking. Since replacing that's Fred's job, I started painting one shingle away from the caulking areas, and when he's done it I'll go back and paint. The caulking has to cure for 72 hours before painting, so I thought I had better get the main part painted so there will just be the edge bits to do. The weather has continued rainy by times, so I squeak in time to paint between showers! The colour is bordeaux, a gorgeous dark burgundy (Behr stain, actually), but oddly enough it goes on a pretty bright purple. Dries quickly to the right shade, though. And it's easy to see where to put more! The shingles on the south are in quite bad shape, partially because they are so baked by the sun on that side - in other, hotter, years, I mean. So there is much filling in of cracks between shingles with a tiny paintbrush - they get worn out pretty quickly in this work. However, with the dark colour, the unpainted bits betweek shingles, shingle edges, etc., show up ghastly against the colour. And the regular brush just doesn't get IN there.

The big pot of sweet peas have begun to bloom! And they are just as fragrant as memory made them. I've only picked one to bring in to the house, so far, but I DO stop and smell them on the deck each time I go by. Mmm.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Stick a tail on it and call it a Weasel

On Saturday I had a Cunning Plan! And I started to execute it at once.

We have a big eyesore on the lawn - a stump of an enormous Theves poplar tree which we had professionally removed two years ago. It's not very high - less than 30 centimetres - but it has five or six enormous roots which run out into the grass and, because they stick up, are hard to mow around. I tried to make it rot by piling sods on it, but all this did was to prevent the stump from burning when we twice (once last fall for Guy Fawkes, and once again this June) tried to burn it out by piling on slash and stuff and having a bonfire. So, I was cleaning up after the most recent fire (there were slices of poplar which didn't burn completely) and as I worked, I wondered what I could do to shield this eyesore from view. I'm still looking for the perfect spot for a new philidelphus (this will make the third time I've tried to grow one which blooms and does not die) and first I thought I'd stick IT in.

Then I thought it would be better to use roses, several of them - and try to ring the problem. I considered buying the three Roseraie de l'Hay I saw at VanK's. And then, thinking further, I realized that using roses I already HAVE in plenty (Rosa rugosa and some others) I could surround it and have it hidden quite quickly, and really cheaply.

I made holes where I could get the shovel in between the roots, and ended up with six holes. Then, I hied me to the Secret Garden and dug three suckers (they are going to take OVER the Secret Garden if we don't mow them or otherwise take them out) of Rosa rugosa and popped them in, in alternate holes. I had pulled up a couple of those "wild" roses from The Back Road and had been keeping them in a water bucket - as usual with roses, they have almost NO roots, and the wonder is that they live at all. Anyway, I dug out a very rich spot closer to the stump, and put the biggest bit in there. IF IT LIVES it will throw up those 3 metre canes and be a great background for the rugosas and others. I've covered the three rugosas with pots to keep them from drying out in the wind, and I've been watering generously several times a day.

I don't usually have much luck with moving them after they have leafed out, so if these don't survive I can do it all again in the spring. However, I have been recently heartened to have successfully moved one - from the new peony bed to a pot, and thence to the edge of the property below the vegetable garden, where it thrives.

I'll wait to see how the rugosas do before I attempt to dig three white suckers out of the rose mound to place in the alternating positions. They won't be all the same - I have one or two Blanc de Coubert, and maybe one Rosa rugosa Alba and a Snow Pavement. I think it will be glorious - if all survive - in a couple of years. And bye, bye, eyesore. I tell you, it's a weasel*.

*Thanks to Sir Edmund.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Awaiting Better Weather...

We've just had a siege of terrible wet stuff for over a week - cloudy, warm and drizzly. There were a couple of downpours as well, so the garden was well watered. But it's been drizzly-dreadful since my b'day, and I hadn't had a chance to use my new present, an eating-outdoors table and 4 chairs. However, we had a short window of opportunity last night and gave eating out a try. It was quite cool - both for the eaters and the "eats" - (man I hate that word...). But I can say I've done it, a week after my birthday, at last.

The garden continues apace, even without the sun. There are many roses out, and the Henry Kelsey on the rose trellis is a sight to behold. He's quite visible from the house, given that he's such a bright red. This morning the Dublin Bay was blooming as well...they are really quite alike in bloom, so I doubt that anyone will notice that there are two different roses on the trellis - though their foliage varies quite a bit.

And, news flash! I had moved my first Henry Kelsey from the rose mound to the hedgerow on the east of the vegetable garden, the year before last, and he struggled a bit and then croaked. However, I've been keeping watch, because he started to sucker up from the rootstock late last year. And today it was blooming (or rather, budding) and it looks like it's a very similar rose's root - maybe even ownroot (though there *did* seem to be a bud union) - in any case, it's a brilliant red, and single-looking. I'm so pleased. Now I have to get it a climbing apparatus of some sort.

I finally gave up on finding potato seed and filled up the vegetable garden with my own tomato seedlings - all Roma, so look out! There will be much salsa made. And perhaps even tomato sauce. There must be 5 dozen plants in all - one Duchess, 6 Lemon Boy, 6 Sweet Million, 6 Early Girl and the rest Roma.

The John Thompson by the front door is blooming beautifully - he is such a good repeater, and quite early, thanks to his rugosa heritage. I am kept busy deadheading, but this is not a big duty when he's producing so well. Of course the dreadful wet weather has made the blooms a bit of a sticky mess, but SOON this will be over (dry for at least the coming week, although cooler until Thursday or Friday).

I started to scrape the paint on the South end of the house -it is its turn to be painted this year - and, thanks to all this wet weather, the stuff is coming off most easily. I think it will need at least a week of dry and sunny before I would dare to put on any stain, though. The shingles feel like sponges.